A Visit to the Land of Alice, Harry, Matilda, and Other Much-Loved Stories

England continues to be a top-selling destination in Northern Europe. But, just like any other destination, there is so much to learn. You can start by enrolling in the new Northern Europe destination specialist course, comprising Scandinavia and The British Isles. The Northern Europe course is the first release in a new multi-part Europe series designed to educate agents about the region using an in-depth, comprehensive overview that will enable additional sales.
We at the Travel Institute believe that learning comes in all shapes and forms. That is why, when we saw this great article and itinerary created by Paull Tickner, owner of U.K-based Custom GB, we needed to share it with you. We hope you enjoy it. We did!

Just before Christmas, a travel advisor asked me to put together a Grandparents and Grandchildren’s tour that would enable them to spend time in London and the English countryside. My response seems to have hit the nail firmly on the head as I brought together Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl’s BFG, a dash of Paddington Bear in London, and an evening performance of Mathilda. The dates they chose were early July, which meant I could also include a visit to the fantastic new Alice in Wonderland Exhibition at London’s V&A Museum. 

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser
Between 27th June 2020 –10th January 2021, this V&A landmark exhibition will celebrate one of the most iconic, imaginative, and inspiring stories of all time. Offering an immersive and mind-bending journey down the rabbit hole, it will explore Alice in Wonderland’s origins, adaptations, and reinventions, charting its evolution from manuscript to a global phenomenon. Featuring theatrical sets, large-scale digital projections and immersive environments, children and adults will journey through the enchanting and extraordinary world of Wonderland, as seen through Alice’s eyes. Running through the summer holidays and through Christmas and the New Year, you can offer parents and their families a unique insight into Alice’s magical wonderland where they can imagine their own world on the other side of the Looking Glass.

A Dolls’ House and Wind in the Willows
With an early morning Heathrow arrival, start with a visit to Windsor Castle, watch the Changing of the Guard and pause to see the exquisite Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. Built nearly 100 years ago, it reflects life below stairs through to the high-society settings of the salon and dining room. Follow with a cruise on the River Thames, then experience the Wind in the Willows Exhibition where much-loved characters, like Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Mr Toad of Toad Hall, jump off the pages as your clients turn each corner.

Alice in Wonderland in Oxford
In Oxford, there’s a special Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland walking tour that includes the Story Museum (currently being transformed and reopening on 4th April). At Christ Church College, you can walk through the same hallways and gardens Alice and her sisters once walked. When looking inside the Cathedral Garden, you will notice a little door that is said to be the door through which Alice entered Wonderland. Inside the college, visitors also can search for hidden Alice features, such as the amazing Alice in Wonderland motifs in one of the large windows in the Great Dining Hall or brass andirons shaped like two ladies with long necks. They are considered as an inspiration for Alice after she tried the left-hand portion of the mushroom, which made her neck grow long. On Saturday 4th July 2020, there’s the annual celebration of Lewis Carroll’s celebrated book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, both significant turning points in children’s literature. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Sir John Tenniel, the book’s original illustrator, and the day will be filled with tea parties, croquet, storytelling, workshops, and much more. 

Inside the Phizz-Whizzing World of Roald Dahl
Entering the chocolate doors of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, youngsters will find out about his school pranks, peek into his original Writing Hut and discover how his real-life adventures inspired his stories. Encouraged to put their imaginations centre stage, the Museum invites them to create their own swashboggling stories – just like Roald Dahl did. At weekends and in the school holidays, storytellers entertain visitors with Roald Dahl’s Dirty Beasts and Revolting Rhymes, and, from swishwifflers to sandwitches, the Café is the place for scrumdiddlyumptious food and drink. The annual Roald Dahl Day takes place on 13th September, and, this year, the event will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publishing of The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The Making of Harry Potter
After a close encounter with Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station, travel to the Warner Brothers Studio, just north of London, where you can go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter films and discover the authentic props, costumes, and sets where all eight Harry Potter movies were made and see the films through the eyes of the filmmakers who brought everything to life. Visit the imposing banking hall of Gringotts Wizarding Bank and learn the secrets of the goblin bankers. See the costumes and prosthetic masks used by Griphook and the other goblins and snap a photo in the depths of the Lestrange vault surrounded by the treasures of Bellatrix Lestrange.

Paull Tickner, owner of U.K-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at www.customgb.co.uk or email him at ptickner@customgb.co.uk.